Vituary: Walt

Sometimes you don’t appreciate someone until

you mature.

Walter has been a part of my whole life, regardless of whether I wanted him in it. I can remember telling him that he was not my dad from a very young age.

What a telling thing to yell at an adult. Just the act of thinking it and verbalizing it means that that person plays some approximate role similar to your father.

Uncle Walter, as we called him before he became Papa, loves to tell the stories of me walking around as a little girl with grapefruits in my blouse saying that I was going to look like Dolly Parton one day. He still threatens me with twins…or I should say curses me with twins.

But Walt is a loyal, trusted, and much loved part of our family and has been for years.

It all began with a glider port he and my father owned. He and my mom became fast best friends soon after meeting. He was there for everything from then on. He came up to the lake on weekends to help my over wrought mother with her four children. He attended all family events. He even became a Girl Scout.

Originally from Kentucky, he went to military school, served in Vietnam, and then worked as a machinist for Delta until he retired. He read the whole Wall Street Journal every day he worked there before work.

When we moved to Portland, he visited on all holidays. And when my parents finally divorced he helped support my mom and my siblings during the divorce going back to work after having retired to help his family.

Eventually moving to Montana to be with his family, he and I shared shifts taking care of my mom as she battled cancer. He had nights, I had days.

After my sister had Tanner and my mom died, Walt became Papa to Tanner. Tanner is the only kid from Montana who sounds like he is a Confederate. Walt continued to support Erica, helping her raise Tanner, effectively the fifth child’s diapers he has changed.

Once in college, I had gotten in over my head in credit card debts. My mom was broke, so I was forced to call this person who was not my father, with whom I often fought with, to ask for a loan. He did it without hesitation. He saved my ass.

John went to flight school in Oklahoma. He arrived broke to start school, but Walt was not far behind, making sure that John had food and money to focus on school.

To this day, whenever anyone of us has needed him, he has been there for us. I hope he knows that I am there for him too.


Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love
By Elizabeth Gilbert

I read a blurb about this book in the Economist a few months ago and saved it. The book, read by the author in the audio version, tells of a year spent abroad by the author. She fills in the back story about why she spent the year abroad, telling us about her road to a more spiritual being and about her horrible divorce. (He wanted kids and a suburban life, she didn’t, things get messy.)

What I find interesting about the book revolves around her found spirituality. While I too feel as though we were created and are not a product of evolution entirely, I feel even more strongly, that if there is a God, she/he/it has much more important stuff to do than worry about what we are eating and which curse words we have used.

Given this point of view for reading the book, I went along on her journey to Italy (where she ate), India (where she prayed in an Ashram), and Indonesia (where she went because an ancient medicine man told her she would go, oh and there she loved.)

The structure of the book gave you a definite sense of forward motion and of impending conclusion. She met vivid characters, my favorite being her friend from Texas who called her Groceries, because she was carrying so much shit around.

The book also lets you watch as she transforms herself from a depressed, harried, and skinny divorcee to a contented, beautiful, and well fed whole woman. At the end she knows who she is and she knows why she is here. And how often do you get to see such a journey without being a parent?

After ending the book, I wanted to know more. After a bit of internet research, I found out that the author is not only happy today, but she is also the author of Coyote Ugly.

Highly recommended


Movie Notes

We just returned from seeing Oceans 13. What a hoot. Lots of fun, nothing but fun for a Friday in the summer. The cute boys are nice to look at as well!


Grammy's Vitauary

In the last week two people near me have lost two people near them, completely unexpectedly. Adding to this loss, are two friends who have relatives who have advanced stages of cancer and one once again realizes the shortness and precarious state of


So I am embarking on the anti-obituary. It struck me at some point in the last year that waiting until a person is dead to tell the world how great they were is absurd. I will begin with my oldest friends, in chronological order and work my way to the youngest.

This means I begin with Eve M. and end with Erin R., with the many people I know along the way.

Eve M. is my grandmother. She has many names: Kay, Eva, Molesworth, E., just to name a few. Her names seem to have marked the stages of her life as well as her address have. Married twice, once to a soldier who died in World War II and to mister miserable, she bore three children. Her daughter, Linda, my mom, died almost seven years ago. Her next child, Ed E. is a professor and was so big when he was born that Gram had to sit sideways for months. And her youngest daughter, Kate H., is an actress in Chicago.

I can’t imagine having been married at 19 and widowed at 21 with a baby. She delivered my mom just before my grandfather shipped out, being one of the first induced labors ever.

She grew up in the depression, spending time in a children’s home. On Fridays, if their home economics room was cleaned up quickly and they ran to catch the trolley in St. Louis, one driver would give her and her friends a free ride downtown. Then they would have one ride left on their ticket for the return trip. I love the vision of Kay running in her last pair of “real” stockings to catch the street car.

After the war she worked in people’s homes and then meet Ed E. senior. They married and had a pleasant life in O’fallon, IL. They were happy. Ed was an accountant and they had a few stores. As Gram says, she worked in retail for many years. She owned a children’s store. And then Mr. Miserable was sent to the slammer.

After a few years and some time spent in California and a divorce, she changed her name to Eve M. and moved to Georgia. Her daughter Linda was pregnant with me. She then became my nanny while my mom continued to work. We spent five years together. I remember watching Phil Donahue and the Price is Right every morning while she had toast and coffee in bed. We did everything together.

I also remember spending hours waiting for her to get ready…she was fixing her hair piece I later learned.

We went to Disney World and Disney Land together. I loved being with Gram. When my brother John was born, she moved to Houston, TX with Cliff, an architect.

I visited her one summer for a month when I was six. That was my first flight alone. We played and had so much fun. I cried the whole way home. I was so sad to leave Gram.

In high school, after we had moved to Montana, I used to drive by her apartment to check on her. One time, her car was there but I could not seem to get her on the phone. I wigged out. I ran up to her apartment and knocked on the door. No answer. Then I went to the neighbor’s door. When I got to the third door, I was a crying mess. “Hi, my name is Nicole. I am Eve’s granddaughter. Have you seen her? I can’t get into her place.”

Grammy was there visiting with her new neighbor. What a first impression I must have made. She remains friends with Howard and Maureen, the neighbors, even today.

A few years ago, we took a trip to the White River. She has fished there forever. Boy was that fun. We stayed in a cottage and got up early to get out on the river. She caught lots of fish. I let her catch my fish, because I did not want to kill the fish. My brother John is supposed to take her fishing next.

I still worry about her though. A few years ago I called the police because I would not reach her. She lives in St. Louis again now. She had gone fishing and not told me…what a spitfire.



Turns out, that I would really like to be a writer and a photographer. So this is a space for me to practice in.

One recurring "columns" will be an animauary or vitauary. This is the opposite of an obituary. So it is a notice celebrating a life while the person is living rather than celebrating a life after the death of the person.

I will also post comments about books, exhibits, what have you when the feeling strikes me.